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Keep these in mind when navigating your college courses.

Going to college can be stressful, no matter your major of choice. There is this expectation that your college advisors are there to be a helping hand throughout the whole process. Your advisor is supposed to help you plan and map out the next four years of your life. They are supposed to give advice on what classes you should and shouldn’t take together and provide resources if you are struggling.

College advisors should make your experience easy but more often than not, they lead students astray. How many times have you left your advising appointments confused and unsure about whether you’re graduating on time? Or how many times has your college advisor suggested that you take a course load that is overwhelming? Let’s be real, there are a lot of college advisors that are there to collect a check. We’ve all had bad advising experiences at some point in our college career. Whether your advisor is flat out discouraging and misleads you about your graduation date or they advise you to take a sequence of courses you didn’t want to take all at once, I’ve learned to take what they say with a grain of salt.

1. You Know You Best

College advising appointments tend to be impersonal, especially when you’re first beginning college. Many advisors are seeing hundreds, if not thousands of students over the course of a few weeks to advise them for the upcoming semester. They want to get as many students in and out of their offices as fast as possible.

We’ve all had that advisor who suggested we take several rigorous classes in one semester. Or who advised that we take a class we ultimately did not need. Well, their advice is just that: a suggestion. Many students tend to take their advisors suggested schedule seriously and end up overloading themselves.

I was guilty of this my first semester of college. My advisor overloaded my schedule and gave me a course load that I couldn’t handle. Funny thing is, I knew before the semester started that he overloaded my schedule and that I probably wouldn’t do as well as I wanted to. My prediction ultimately came true.

Moral of the story is that you know you best. You know your study habits and what you can handle course-wise. Listen to what your advisor says, but take it with a grain of salt. If they advise you for a heavier course load, speak up for yourself.

2. Your Advisor Is Probably Not a Faculty Member of Your Major

In most majors, you probably won’t be advised by faculty members until junior or senior year. Your first two years of college, you’ll most likely see someone in university advisement, who is not a faculty member and sometimes has little to no knowledge about your major.

Sometimes the sequence of courses suggested by the university advisor is not recommended by your faculty advisors. There have been several instances where I’ve had to double check my advised class schedule with my faculty advisor.

Don’t be afraid to get to know your faculty earlier than junior or senior year. Go meet with them to double check that you were advised for the right classes and on the right track. Ask them questions about your major because they’re going to be more knowledgeable than your typical university advisor.

3. They Can Mislead You

How many times have you met with your college advisor and they misled you about your graduation date? Or have you had a friend who was supposed to graduate, but turns out they were missing a few required classes? Although college advisors are supposed to be reviewing your degree audit before you come to meet with them, most times they pull it up right before you arrive. Some advisors will pull it up during your appointment.

Some advisors flat out do not care. They are only there to collect a check. We’ve all had bad advising experiences. My worst advising experience was with an advisor who had no idea when I could graduate or even if I was on track to graduate. He was one of the main reasons I wound up switching majors because if I’m getting advised, I want to feel like I’m at least working toward a set graduation date.

What bad advising experience have you had? Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Let your advisor know if you have any questions or if something just doesn’t seem right.

College advisors can make or break your college experience. In college, there is the expectation that your advisor will see you through your degree and never lead you astray.

Yes, that happens when you have a genuine advisor, who cares about you succeeding and doing well. But what happens when you have an advisor who flat out does not care? Bad college advisors can make your college experience more expensive and a living nightmare.

The goal is to graduate from college in four years and move on to the next chapter of your life. A good college advisor will help you make your goals come to fruition. A bad one will have you in college more time than necessary and even cause you to take out loans to pay for an extra semester or even an extra year of college.

The best thing you can do going through college is to go to your advising appointments with a potential schedule already in mind. If you come prepared with a schedule of classes and run them by your college advisor, it saves both of you time. A good advisor will tell you if your plans sounds good or not. If it doesn’t, they’ll give you suggestions on which class or classes to replace. A bad advisor most likely will okay whatever you bring to them, even if it is a bad plan.

The moral of the story is to come prepared. Already have an ideal schedule in mind, to save both you and your advisor time. Coming with a potential schedule will also help you during your advising appointment. As a student, your advising appointments should be led by you.

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